Thrilling piano recital by Robin Inexperienced on the Vale of Glamorgan Competition – Seen and Heard Worldwide

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United Kingdom Vale of Glamorgan Competition [2] – Robin Inexperienced (piano): Cardiff College Live performance Corridor. 26.9.2022. (PCG)

Robin Inexperienced taking part in on the Vale of Glamorgan Competition

AdèsDarkness seen (1992)

Robert FokkensOn Quietude and Dancing (2016, world premiere)

AdamsPhrygian Gates (1977)

The centrepiece of this enterprising Vale of Glamorgan Competition piano recital was the considerably belated world premiere of Robert Fokkens’s substantial twenty-minute piece On Quietude and Dancing. Though written six years in the past, it was solely now receiving its first efficiency, underneath circumstances which have been outlined in a preliminary interview between the composer and Charles Wilson.

The work consists of 5 actions. It begins and ends with two sections entitled Commentary, which distinction the soloist taking part in delicately contained in the instrument, seamlessly interwoven with rhapsodic contemplations on the keyboard itself. There’s additionally a short and vigorous Précis which additional explores the idea thematic materials. The 2 principal sections are extra prolonged. The primary, Aria (it quotes briefly from Bach’s Goldberg Variations), is a rapt and nonetheless depiction of the quietude of the work’s title; it slowly expands from tentative beginnings to an impassioned climax and again once more. I used to be reminded of a pool of water disturbed by the dropping of accelerating ripples which solely step by step subsided to their authentic sample. Against this, Tropes is a dance motion; it begins slowly and step by step accelerates right into a extra frenzied tempo by way of a Morse-like insistent theme. Once more the thematic materials is slowly amassed, with excellent taking part in from Robin Inexperienced – and his intrepid page-turner who needed to contend in Précis with a web page that actually didn’t wish to keep turned! The ultimate part once more had the pianist excavating contained in the piano with pedal depressed towards staccato assaults on the decrease register. The resultant harmonics might need been near inaudible in a bigger house; however within the resonant acoustic of the corridor right here they labored completely.

The recital had opened with a efficiency of Thomas Adès’s temporary seven-minute Darkness seen, one thing of a technical tour de power. It’s a transcription of John Dowland’s music In darkness let me dwell with usually surprisingly violent dislocation of pitch and dynamic. However – because the composer insists within the programme be aware – no notes really added, though ‘some have been eliminated’. Thirty years in the past, the piece was acclaimed as a brilliantly efficient realisation of the temper of the Dowland music with its ‘partitions of marble black’. Now that we now have turn into accustomed to the music via the medium of recording, its bareness of texture is in some way unsatisfying. We are able to nonetheless admire the experience of the writing, and the exploitation of piano method, and but the ambiance has in some way evaporated over time. Probably the most telling second within the efficiency got here when, within the closing bars, the unique Dowland music materialised quietly to offer a rapt conclusion which illustrated slightly too clearly what had been lacking earlier than. That is after all a perennial hazard in using pastiche and collage, a hazard of which we’re maybe extra aware now than we have been three many years in the past.

However then John Adams’s Phrygian Gates is an excellent older rating, and it nonetheless appears contemporary even after we now have turn into acquainted with the music over almost half a century of recordings. The composer’s programme be aware is sort of forbidding. It lays emphasis on the procedures he adopts in his modal writing and contrasts in a fashion that would lead the unwary to suspect a extremely mental argument; however his dealing with of his materials is sort of the other. What the listener just isn’t ready for in a stay efficiency – versus a recording – is the sheer physicality and virtuosity of the piano writing. The headlong torrent of ostinato rhythms hardly eases for a second, besides to launch into some new modal patterning which alternates between Phrygian and Lydian scales. However every time the mesmeric repetition threatens to cut back the hearer to a state of meditative contemplation, a brand new and sudden twist within the sample quickens the heartbeat as soon as extra.

The sheer stamina of Robin Inexperienced’s taking part in was astonishing. It was a surprise that his arms weren’t bodily shaking with the hassle on the finish of the efficiency. And, though there might need been plentiful alternative (and excuse) for improper notes to slide by unnoticed, his accuracy gave the impression to be faultless. We all know that Adams’s model has developed significantly since his earlier and extra strictly minimalist days when he wrote Phrygian Gates, however the music has not dated and stays as enthralling as ever.

This was one other distinctive live performance in the midst of this yr’s Vale of Glamorgan Competition, whose enterprise – and coverage of that includes solely the work of residing composers – stays a beacon of enthusiasm and enlightenment. I used to be struck but once more by the truth that the viewers consisted of way over the standard assortment {of professional} musical practitioners, with a public viewers delightedly ready to experiment with, and luxuriate in, new music.

Paul Corfield Godfrey

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